We are frequently asked this question by our readers: I am guilty or my child is guilty...do I still need to pay a criminal defense attorney? The answer, is definitely "yes." Criminal defense is not just for the innocent. There are many rights to be protected and benefits to be had by being properly represented by a skilled, connected, private Illinois criminal defense attorney at the earliest stage, even before arrest.
What's at stake in a criminal prosecution is more than just determination of guilt or innocence, and a definite amount of jail time. The outcome of your case, even if you are guilty, can look quite different depending on how your defense proceeds from the start. There is a range of sentences for any crime, and where your sentence fall in that range can be greatly affected by the lawyer you have in your corner.
A truly skilled and experienced attorney can evaluate and shape your case based on all of the evidence that is available both from his or her own investigations, and from the police investigations. If your attorney is well-connected and has practiced enough in the location of your arrest, he or she can also use the experiences with the prosecutors, the judge assigned to your case, and other county and community based knowledge of the potential jury pool, to plan details of your defense.
Also, in the early stages before arrest, your attorney should know, based on all the facts and circumstances, how much you should or need to talk to police and submit to requests for lineups, DNA tests, and other evidence-gathering by the police. Protecting your constitutional rights at the outset can be a critical turning point.
Once your case has progressed past the initial investigation, but before trial, your attorney should determine whether it would be in your best interest to work on a plea arrangement. Pleas deals can avoid the uncertainty and cost of going to trial, while hopefully assuring you of a lesser sentence than you likely would receive if you went to trial. Plea arrangements can involve not just your prison time, but also the actual charge that is entered and the other elements of the charge.
Alternatives to guilty pleas and convictions should also be explored by your defense attorney. This is another area where being well-connected in the local practices and customs is very important. Supervision and treatment programs, for example, can be considered if they can be completed successfully.
We hear from our readers frequently, telling us their stories of relief when they have had successful outcomes with their involved, aggressive defense attorneys. One, for example, called us to say that he had been using a Public Defender, and had been offered a deal for 12 years of incarceration. Fortunately for him, he realized he was not being well-served, and hired an aggressive, connected private Illinois defense attorney. This attorney was able to get the offer down to only 2 years. While that may seem like it's still a long time in jail, the client was thrilled and hugged his attorney because he was sure he would not be able to do better than 12 years. The sentence difference represented a clear life difference.
Regardless of the seriousness of the crime, and the evidence you believe exists against you, don't give up on a proper defense. The money spent on a top defense attorney can potentially give you returns for the rest of your life.
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